A Dance Lover's Guide to Orlando

Kelsey Glennon Pointe Shoes
Kelsey Glennon Pointe Shoes | Credit Cory Callahan Photography
Kelsey Glennon

Orlando is home to a large theater and dance community, full of professional performing artists who love this city for its opportunities to perform onstage. But outside of their everyday jobs, Orlandoan performers are creating, teaching, choreographing, and hitting the dance floor for fun.
The following list of dance companies and studios are not purveyors of Zumba or the like. Rather, they teach the real thing. If you’re looking to get into the dance community, either as a dancer yourself or just a lover of the live performance art, read on.
There is nowhere better to build your foundation in dance than with ballet class. Stop into Central Florida Ballet for the best in Vaganova technique. Catch their students earning high marks at the World Ballet Competition, held in Orlando each June. Orlando Ballet, the city’s resident company, also offers classes for all ages at their academy. Don’t miss their performances at Orlando’s new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts featuring unique stage adaptations such as “Dracula,” and “Battle of the Sexes.”
Orlando’s tap scene is growing, evident by its upcoming first-ever Orlando Tap Festival in June 2017. Dancers and teachers alike join together for a weekend of live performances and workshops. Open to all levels, don’t miss the opportunity to grab your ticket and meet Orlando’s top tappers. Prep for the event with drop-in tap classes at ME Dance School.
Jazz dance and its sub-genres musical theater, lyrical, and contemporary dance, are having a bit of a golden age thanks to popular television shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance.” If you think you want to learn how to dance like these stars, attend a jazz class at Orlando dance studios for a fun, contemporary dance education. Marshall Ellis Dance School, Spotlight Dance Center, Emotions Dance Studio, and Dr. Phillips Center For the Performing Arts all offer adult classes (18+) and convenient punch cards for class packages. If you’re a lover of the theatrical genre, don’t miss out on dance performances at iDance Orlando and The Orlando Fringe.
A beloved Orlando institution since 2002, Orlando Swing Dance continues to attract newcomers looking to learn the fun 50’s social dance. First-timers need not be intimidated. All bi-monthly swing socials host a beginner’s class prior, covering basic footwork and turns. Orlando Swing Socials are a family-friendly environment, are alcohol-free and smoke-free. Some socials even feature live big-band entertainment. For college students looking to break into the swing scene, don’t miss out on UCF’s popular Swing Knights classes and events. Non-UCF students are welcome.
Hip-hop is a street-style of dance and one of the most accessible forms of dance to the newcomer. With popular music and feel-good movement, hip-hop is approachable and fun to learn. In Orlando hip-hop has found an urban home at Spotlight Dance Center with classes offered by Chris “Casper” Lupis. Casper has helped choreograph for the Orlando Magic dancers and Walt Disney World, to name just a few. His classes are mixed-level and open to all. For more R&B, rap, and pop stylings, drop in for a variety of level of classes at Motiv Dance Studio or Emotions Dance Studio.
With a large and flourishing Latin American culture, Orlando is home to many salsa and social dance halls. There’s nowhere better to get the basics than at Salsa Heat. With three separate locations across Orlando, there are plenty of options for classes in not only salsa dance but also bachata, cha-cha, and ballroom. Practice your moves at their Friday socials, open to all. Check out their classes on offer and jump into the level for you. With more than 60,000 registered students across their Florida locations, Salsa Heat is sure to introduce you to new friends and dance lovers.
If you’re looking for dance that pushes the boundaries of rules and conventions, then get your tickets for a Drip show. This unique Orlando-only production features dancers performing with a variety of materials—from water, to sand, to paint. Backed by live music, Drip dancers can be found performing on Orlando’s International Drive, a hub for tourism and entertainment. Don’t expect to stay dry or out of the elements in this show. Drip is an immersive experience.

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